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9 Fun Ways to Use Wallpaper


If you’re afraid  that wallpaper is just too trendy, don’t be. Since the middle ages people have been covering their walls. Originally tapestries were hung to help keep in heat. That set off a trend for decorated walls that hasn’t stopped.

There are so many great designs available that it’s hard to choose only one pattern. That’s okay – there’s lots of interesting places that can be papered. We’re going to show you some great wallpaper patterns along with some creative ways to use wallpaper in your home.

1. Do a Feature Wall

One wall in a room will really make a statement. And if you’re doing only one wall, go really bold and strong. For added interest, do one wall in a room and then one small wall of an adjoining room in the same paper.






2. Use Wallpaper to bring in a Texture

Sometimes you need to touch the wall to know if it’s paper or the real deal. That’s how good today’s wallpapers are. Always wanted a concrete wall, or reclaimed wood or raw silk? You can have the look with wallpaper.




3. Powder Rooms are Crying out to be Papered

A little shy to try out some paper? Start with the powder room. These small rooms can pack a big look when done in a fun paper. And just because it’s a small room doesn’t mean you can’t go big. Actually, the room will look better with a larger scale paper. Go wild, after all, nobody stays in this room too long.



4. Wallpaper the Fireplace

Not sure what to finish the fireplace in? Consider wallpaper! There are times when stone or brick just isn’t the right choice. Wallpaper let’s you go for a one-of-a-kind look.



5. Use Wallpaper in Place of a Headboard

A bed just can’t float in a room, so we automatically think headboard. Be a little different and use a fab wallpaper. If the space is large, try a mural wallpaper – it’s a showstopper. If you are a headboard person, pick a paper that co-ordinates.



6. Don’t forget to Paper the Ceiling

So often the ceiling of our homes is overlooked. Think of it as the fifth wall. Look up – surprise – there’s wallpaper on the ceiling. It’s a beautiful way to add interest and tie a room together. Subtle or bold, it really warms up a space.



7. Paint over Textured Wallpaper

Feel a room needs a little something but not a whole lot? Paintable textured wallpaper is a great alternative. It adds pattern and texture which can do so much for a room.


8. Use it to Brighten up Furniture

Why limit wallpaper to just the walls. Using it on furniture makes a lovely statement. Inside or out, it’s a great way to use up left over bits.



9. Frame Wallpaper and Use it as Art

Today’s wallpapers are like art – so go ahead and frame it! A cheap and cheerful touch that looks really high end.



We love wallpaper – and if you haven’t checked it out since the days of ducks wearing heart-shaped wreaths, you’re in for a surprise. January is a great month to add some wallpaper pizzaz. Happy papering!!

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.




2015 Un-Trendy List…10 ways to have classic decor

Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping
Every year at the end of December, all the magazines come out with the style lists for the new year. The lists of all the things that we need to have in order to fit in – the must have clothes, shoes, paint colours, furniture and hairstyles. It’s the ultimate list of what’s going to be hot for 2015. We prefer to stay away from fads and trendy items. These are the items that can be too easily dated – you know the saying…’that’s so 2014!’
At Karen Fron Interior Design, we LIKE to be stylish. We WANT the homes that we do be unique and interesting, but they need to stand the test of time. We like the quote by Coco Chanel,
 ‘Fashion changes but style endures’.
We have found that there are certain things that make a home beautiful, cozy and happy. And basically it has little to do with the latest fad colour or newest style of chair. It’s more about the feel of a space, and how it makes us feel. After all,  Good Design is not just what looks good, it also needs to perform, convert, astonish and fulfill its purpose.
So we present to you our 2015 Un-Trendy List…how to decorate so it lasts.

#1. Function and Comfort are Most Important 

Set up your space for the way you use it now. Make it as comfortable as possible. Ensure that there are lights where they are needed, little tables to hold drinks, footstools for tired feet. No matter how stylish a home, it will never feel good if it isn’t cozy and comfortable. We all know that older neighbour or aunt who hasn’t redecorated in 30 years, yet hers is the home you can stay in for hours. It’s welcoming, comfortable and pleasing. So lovely in fact, that the avocado coloured appliances don’t even make you blink.

 #2. Style of Home Must Suit the Locale

If you live in the mountains, then a lodge look is appropriate. Just like if you live near the ocean, then your home can look beachy. Decorating in a theme that is not relevant is never a good idea. It always looks out of place and contrived. Timeless design always looks easy and doesn’t have that “I-tried-too-hard” look.


#3. Natural Light is important – have lots of windows

It’s so important to have natural light in a home. There’s nothing worse then having to keep lights on during the day because rooms are so dark. If you are building, make sure you have as many windows as possible. When buying, take note of the amount of natural light, or you’ll forever be decorating to overcome the lack of light. Like moths, human beings are drawn to light. Ours just needs to be natural.


#4. Hardwood Flooring – A Timeless Choice

Wooden flooring has been used throughout history, first appearing as rough hewn planks and then graduating to elegant polished floors, often inlaid with handcrafted designs. Today there are so many types of wooden floors to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong with any wood you choose. For the Un-Trendy list, we recommend staying in the 3-5 inch size and staying away from trendy stain colours. 



#5. Marble – A Classic Stone

For thousands of years, marble has been used in architecture. From the richly coloured red floor of the Basilica of Saint Peter’s in Rome, to the walls of the Palace of Versailles, to the elaborately designed nave of England’s Salisbury Cathedral, marble can still take our breath away. And because of it’s ability for refinement, marble has been the favoured medium of choice for some of the world’s best sculptors. Having marble counters, backsplash or floor tile in your home is an affordable luxury that is steeped in history. Any material that’s been around for thousands of years can be called a true classic and makes our Un-Trendy List.



#6.  Fireplace – The Allure of Fire

Historically fireplaces were used for the practical purposes of heating, cooking, and warming water for laundry and domestic uses. Today we love everything about fireplaces: the warmth, the beauty of its flames, and the cozy feeling it brings. It’s a visible and tangible source of comfort to us. A sitting room with a fireplace offers comfort and creates an inviting experience. We recommend having a fireplace in your living room. From wood burning, to gas, to electric and now gel-fuel fireplaces, there’s an option for every room. 




#7. Original Art – Personalize your Space

Original art personalizes and humanizes the buildings that we live and work in. There’s a certain energy that a piece of art gives off.  When viewing a work of art, we are able to share with the artist their deep emotion that allowed them to create their piece.

All art is powerful

Whether it’s a master’s painting hanging in the Louvre, or a simple drawing done by a child, it’s a one-of-a-kind piece and that makes it special. Number 7 on our Un-Trend List is to surround yourself with original works of art. Photographs, painting, woodworking, weaving, pottery…any type of art that speaks to you.



#8.  Personal Items – Tell Your Story

It’s important to surround yourself with items that have meaning. It’s also important to display these items in a way that is pleasing and aesthetically beautiful. Each item should be placed with care and with attention to detail. The styling of room is not always easy. It takes time to collect items that are meaningful and it takes a flair to display them properly. Sometimes it is wise to hire a professional to attend to these details. I like to follow the words of William Morris,

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’


#9. Balance – The Most Important Principle of Design

There are seven principles of interior design and while all of them are important, I would place balance as the most important. If a room doesn’t feel balanced, it just doesn’t feel good. Balance is the equal distribution of weight in a room. There are three types of balance, symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial. Symmetrical balance is usually found in traditional interiors and one side mirrors the other,  asymmetrical is often employed today in interiors and relates very strongly to the visual weight of objects, radial is when all elements of design are arrayed around a central point, like a spiral staircase. Whichever form you employ, it’s important to have balance to make a space feel right.


#10. The Wow Factor – What Makes your Space Unique

Whenever we do a room, we think about all the items in numbers 1-9. Then comes number 10 – the WOW Factor. That something extra that makes a room unique and special. And it can’t just be anything, it has to be something that is authentic for the people that live in the space. Think about your wow factor and what you can do to a room to make it just a little bit special. Maybe it’s as simple as painting the garden doors black when all window trims are white. Or maybe it’s layering rugs, or using wallpaper or hanging an oversize piece of art. Always ask yourself…what can be done to make this room unique.



So now you have our Un-Trend List – and it’s good for years to come. If you follow these interior design principles and apply some basic human psychology, you will have a recipe for creating a home that has timeless appeal.

Wishing you a wonderful 2015 and a home full of love and laughter.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.


















Fabulous Fabrics…it’s all in the mix

Fabric Post

Getting a new box of crayons in my Christmas stocking was my very favourite present. Carefully I would open the lid, breathe in that new crayon smell and admire those 64 gorgeous colours. It would take me about a week before I was actually ready to use them. First I had to make colour combinations. I would put the purple beside the red (daring), line up all the different shades of green (monochromatic), and decide if I liked pink better with blue or orange. There were so many colour combinations and I loved them all. It’s no surprise that I gravitated toward interior design.

Working with fabrics is probably the favourite part of our job. There is something so satisfying about putting different colours and textures together. When it’s done well, it immediately elevates a room from nice to show-stopping.  Many times we’ve made a ho-hum room fabulous by loading up with exquisite  cushions.

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It’s not just the colour combination that’s important, it’s also the textures. Rooms need differing textures, but they still have to blend. It’s especially important when working with whites and creams. Think smooth, chunky, small pattern, stripe, herringbone and tweed.  It’s also important to have different shades of white, ivory and cream for an interesting look.

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When putting a room together, we like to add a pop of colour. A look isn’t complete until we throw in that something extra, that bit of colour that doesn’t necessarily match, but really stands out. Sometimes it’s hard for homeowners to be that bold. A few weeks ago, Debbie and I were at Homesense getting some Italian sheets for a client. As I was talking to Debbie, I could see her attention focusing on the basket of a fellow shopper. Trance-like, Debbie whispers, ‘I can’t let her do it, Karen. I can’t let her buy those cushions and lamps because they’re just so blah. They won’t look nice in her home.” So off she went to make a new friend and get a pop of colour in that shopping basket!

Lately we’ve been using different shades of red. Scarlet, raspberry, coral, burgundy and carmine are happy colours and can be added to most colour schemes. A little red goes a long way though, so be cautious. Red feature walls are never a good idea for a family home. They may look okay in a restaurant or office, but are really hard to live with.

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Most times a colour should be repeated at least three times in a room. Sometimes though it’s okay to just put one stand out pop of colour. In the photo above on the left, imagine how great a few toss cushions in pumpkin orange would look. It’s just that touch of  “I’m not trying too hard!”

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As much as we like colour and pattern, I don’t mind using great neutrals for large items. The chair below is done in a beautiful textured work horse fabric. It might seem a boring choice when you consider all the options, but that’s the beauty of it. The choice for cushions, throws, draperies and area rugs is wide open.

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Beautiful fabrics can cost a beautiful price, but we think it’s money well spent. The luxurious feel of quality fabrics really is worth it. However, not every fabric in a room has to be best quality. It’s that old trick of mixing low and high. A few high end pieces will make everything look great.

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Most of the fall fabric collections have come into the showrooms now. What impresses me the most is that there is so much variety. If there is one look, it seems to be an ‘anything goes’ attitude. Colours are warming up slightly, but there really is something for everyone. I’m hopeful that this trend of not being stuck on one look stays.

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I feel colour affects us so much, that we absolutely need to surround ourselves with fabrics that bring out the best in us. Think of beautiful fabrics as a tonic for the soul.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.



European Influence – Herringbone Tile

We’ve been working on a design style for one of our clients this week. They are the most gracious, elegant and classic couple. We want their home to be a true reflection, so we’ve been researching timeless patterns for flooring, wallpaper and fabric. You know me…I love this history stuff…in great detail. However, I’ll condense my notes and give you the short version. Taegan took a bunch of pictures when she was in Europe, so you’ll get some pretty pictures too.

In around 500 B.C. the Roman Empire developed an expansive road system called Viae Publicae which stretched for 50,000 miles. Considering all the advances in technology and construction, we still use their basic principals of interlocking patterns. Criss-crossing pavers absorb the compression of movement and become very strong and able to handle huge loads. In fabric, this pattern can be traced back to Egyptian textiles where again the use of criss-crossing threads made for a strong fabric. There are very early examples of native cultures employing zig-zag weaves to create strong waterproof baskets. So a beautiful pattern started as an effective design solution in many cultures.
Which brings us to the types of criss-crossing patterns…chevron and herringbone. Chevron is a zig-zag pattern that comes to sharp point. Herringbone resembles a broken zig-zag, and the points do not come sharply together. They are both classic patterns, but I find that herringbone is a little softer, so I usually specify chevron for more modern applications.















When picking the fixed elements of design, it’s important to know your history! While we all like to be current, don’t go all trendy on the big expensive stuff. Keep it basic and classic. Look to the past for inspiration and you can’t go wrong. Keep the fun trends to the top layer…and switch that out when it becomes so last year.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.



Art Nouveau- the new and old

When I was in school studying Interior Design, we took a lot of courses about art history and furniture design. I loved these classes. My art history teacher would say that art tells the true story of the world. It’s a peek into the culture and the way civilizations before us lived.

When our Junior Designer, Taegan, went to Europe, she saw so many beautiful works of art, grand buildings and exquisite details everywhere, her camera couldn’t keep still. Maybe because in Calgary she’s been exposed to square box buildings and get- it-built-move-on-to-the-next-architecture, she was captivated by the Art Nouveau style.

Here’s a brief gallery of her Art Nouveau photos.




If you’re an art history geek like me, you’ll want to read up on all the details of the Art Nouveau movement; how it incorporates the cycle of birth, decay and death, it’s subtle negative portrayal of women as menacing and scandalous, how Sigmund Freud influenced the style and how the Art Nouveau style reemerged in the late 1960′s with psychedelic artwork for rock concert posters and album covers.

If you’re more normal, and maybe just intrigued by the sensuous sweeping lines of the style, below are some modern day inspirations to work the style into your home.


Brennon Braud
Brennon Braud





If you want to seem like a real expert on this style, just remember that Art Nouveau is known for it’s sweeping curves and flowing linear lines. And don’t confuse Art Deco with Art Nouveau…two separate decorative arts. Maybe a post for another day?

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.



Nail the details

Nail the details

Nailhead trim on furniture is hip and funky! Hard to believe that this detail is 400 years old. It looks modern and sexy, and is showing up in lots of new applications to create bold looks.

via graham and green

The use of nailhead trim dates back to the period of 1560-1643 with the rise of French Country Style during the reign of Louis XIII.

via hickory chair

Today nailheads are paired with contemporary fabrics and bold colours for a sophisticated look.

via hickory chair

Both upholstery and case goods are showing off their studs these days. The formal lines of the furniture can be outlined, but we are also seeing nailheads used to create bold artistic designs.

via Horchow

Many furniture manufacturers allow customization using nailheads. As well, nailhead trim can be added as a DIY project.

via lee industries
Whatever your choice, get some nailhead in your home. It’s like jewelry for your furniture!

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.


Wallpaper is cool again

After a short hiatus, wallpaper is back in fashion. We should have seen this coming as wallpaper has a long interesting history.


In the middle ages the elite class hung tapestries on their walls. This added colour as well as much needed insulation. Less well off members of the upper-class turned to wallpaper to brighten their rooms.


Early wallpaper featured scenes similar to those depicted on tapestries. Some early wallpapers were even hung loose to mimic the look of a tapestry.


During the Protectorate, under Oliver Cromwell, the manufacture of wallpaper was seen as frivolous and was halted. Following the restoration of Charles II, the lure of wallpaper was as strong as ever and wealthy people all across England began decorating with it again.


The development of the steam-powered printing press in Britain in 1813 allowed manufacturers to mass produce wallpaper. Thus its price was reduced and wallpaper became affordable to working class people. It was a cheap effective way to brighten up cramped and dark rooms.

 William Morris was one of the most influential designers of wallpaper and fabrics during the latter half of the Victorian period. Although he believed in ‘art for all’, his wallpapers were expensive and there wasn’t much uptake. However, he has had a long lasting effect on wallpaper design and his papers continue to be popular. Charles Francis Annesley Voysey  was an Arts and Crafts architect who also designed fabrics, tiles, ceramics, and wallpapers. His style combined simplicity with sophistication. His wallpapers feature stylised bird and plant forms in bold outlines with flat colours. Many of his designs still remain in print.


During the late 1980’s, wallpaper fell out of favour in lieu of faux painting. Now we’re seeing wallpaper show up in stylish homes, often as a feature wall. The patterns are big and bold and the colour choices are simply beautiful.


Consider adding wallpaper to your home. Email me if you would like to see some of the newest and stylish patterns. Seems our love of wallpaper can only be suppressed for so long. So go ahead, enjoy this inexpensive way to bring colour, texture and pattern to your walls.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.


An old fav…Small kitchens with big style

An old fav…Small kitchens with big style

We’re programmed to think bigger is better. This isn’t always the case when it comes to design. Often what happens with bigger is the details get overlooked.


This small kitchen is designed for function. It has everything that a kitchen needs, as well as beautiful details.


When designing a smaller space, every inch counts. Nothing is by chance.


“The details are not the details. They make the design.”
Charles Eames

Good words to remember.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.


Update to timeless design – before & after

Jackie Blog
The decision was made and they were going to stay in the house. The kids were older, living at home only for the summers, but the space still worked. What was needed was an update. New flooring, furniture, paint and a redo of the fireplace. It was also a chance to set up the home to function for the way they lived now.

The homeowners were eager to embrace some new ideas and move outside their comfort zone. They wanted a calm, neutral palette that would be soothing. The kitchen and living room receive a lot of sunlight, so it’s always bright and cheery. This allowed us to use a fairly monochromatic palette.


On the first visit we discussed the necessity of three eating areas – kitchen table, kitchen island and dining room. It made sense to keep the dining room because the kids aren’t home all the time and when they are, meals turn into a dinner party.

Jackie Blog2JackieBlog4

When it’s just the two of them, the homeowners enjoy eating at the island. They also like grabbing a light meal or coffee in the lounge chairs where their kitchen table used to be. We debated whether to do a small bistro table or an upholstered bench. Being able to put the feet up won over a place to put a plate.

When it came time to design the fireplace, we took the tiles straight up to the ceiling. This keeps it sleek and modern looking. After years of struggling with what to put on the mantle, the homeowner was happy not to have one.

We really enjoyed working with this couple and giving them a space that suits their life now. For me, the most important part of the design process is to find out how the homeowners live and give them a space that reflects this.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.



Bon Voyage!

Taegan, our Junior Designer, just left for Europe. We’re all so excited for her. She’s flying into Amsterdam to meet up with her sister. The girls will tour Amsterdam, Bruges then head to Paris and Barcelona.












There’s nothing like Europe – the food, the fashion, the history…it’s going to be such a great trip. There’s so much to learn and see. The world is such a fascinating place, full of so many works of art. It could be an old master at the Rijksmuseum, or coloured tile on a building in Barcelona…there’s inspiration everywhere.

Taegan has promised to let us travel with her. She’s going to post lots of pics on instagram. Follow along and see what she finds. @Karenfrondesign

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
― Henry Miller

Have a great trip Taegan!

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.